May 5, 2022
The Central Conference of American Rabbis continues to oppose, now with increasing alarm, proposed and enacted state laws targeting transgender young people. These laws include, but are not limited to, prohibitions against gender-affirming healthcare for transgender minors, mandates that transgender youth may participate in athletic competitions only in accordance with their sex assigned at birth, and laws intended to erase queer people by sanctioning public school teachers who acknowledge the existence of gender identity and sexual orientation.
Our rabbinic tradition recognized a wide variety of genders. Reform rabbis take seriously the basic tenet of Torah, that all humanity is created in God’s image. As such, we likewise affirm that all human beings are created with gender identities, which for some people do not align with the sex assigned to them at birth.
Further, as we have often affirmed in other contexts, Judaism’s highest value is pikuach nefesh, saving a life. Given the terrifying rate of suicide and of suicidal ideation in transgender youth, particularly when they are not affirmed in their gender identity, combating these laws is a religious obligation and a matter of life and death.
The CCAR values all of its members and members of the communities we serve, increasing numbers of whom are transgender or gender non-confirming. Many CCAR members and members of the communities we serve have children who are directly impacted by these laws and proposals. Our partner organization, the Union for Reform Judaism, embraces transgender children in its camps and youth programs, notably including NFTY: The Reform Jewish Youth Movement. Our seminary, Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion, affirms transgender and gender non-confirming students, including candidates for the rabbinate and cantorate.
The CCAR commends its members and their Jewish and interfaith partners who are fighting these laws, often at great personal risk, particularly in states which have already adopted these nefarious laws or which are most likely to do so.
Reform rabbis will not rest in our advocacy for the health and well-being of transgender youth and those who care for them.
Rabbi Lewis Kamrass
Rabbi Hara E. Person
Central Conference of American Rabbis